Hanging out with my heroes – by Rachel Mann-Bradbury

It’s not every day you get to meet a hero, those people who inspire you to be the best and to overcome those challenges in life. On 24 April 2017 I was able to meet and be inspired by not one, but four of these people in what was one of the best days of my working life.

Allow me to explain…

Former Olympic athlete Dame Jessica-Ennis-Hill has a brand new running festival called VitalityMove to encourage people to walk, run and move to music at an event at Chatsworth House in 9 July and Windsor Great Park on 17 September. Diabetes UK was selected by Jessica herself to be supported by the event to help us raise vital funds to help fight diabetes.

To help promote the event, we were invited to attend a media day at Chatsworth House to meet Jessica and invite a few Diabetes UK supporters to join in on the day.

As Regional Fundraiser for the East Midlands for Diabetes UK, I was able to invite one of the people who fundraises for us. I selected Lottie Swinscoe, who is 19 and from Nottinghamshire. This was because she has raised over £10,000 in memory of her best friend Georgia Nelson who had Type 1 and died from a night-time hypo in October 2016. Like many of our fundraisers Lottie is and remains a huge inspiration to me in many ways and I wanted to recognise her courage and determination to raise awareness of diabetes care and raising such a vast amount for the charity in her best friend’s memory.

The other two people who were selected to attend was Andy Broomhead and Pam Lake. Andy is a regular contributor to the Diabetes UK blog. He’s spent years selflessly volunteering his own time supporting Diabetes UK in various ways, including being chair of his Diabetes UK local group in Sheffield and on the Council of People Living with Diabetes. I think it’s incredible that Diabetes UK has now appointed Andy as its new Head of Volunteering; he is a born leader and I feel that both the charity and I can learn a lot from him.

Pam from Derbyshire took part in the 1 Million Step Challenge in 2016 and said this ‘literally changed my life’. This is a bold statement and I was intrigued to find out more. She told me that one year ago her GP had told her she was at very high risk of Type 2 diabetes and had ‘pre-diabetes’. Pam decided that this wasn’t going to happen to her and took part in the challenge, organised local walking groups and lost 4 stone in weight, all while blogging about her experiences. At a recent GP check-up she was told she is no longer at risk of Type 2 diabetes. I speak to so many people at risk of Type 2 diabetes and I always feel so inspired when people take that assessment and are motivated make a change in their life. Let’s face it, it’s difficult to change your routine, but Pam’s story demonstrates how positive that can be.

Jessica Ennis-Hill’s grit and determination to win gold in the Heptathlon at the 2012 Olympics in London was amazing and something I’ll never forget. Since retiring, Jessica has been given the honour of dame and is now pregnant with her second child. I was very nervous meeting her for the first time (see me red-faced in the picture with her), but I shouldn’t have worried she was such a nice person, down to earth and had time to talk to everyone who was there. During the Q&A I asked why she selected Diabetes UK to be supported by the event, she said she wanted encourage everyone, young and old, to get off the sofa and get active and reduce their risk of diabetes. She even highlighted Pam’s story as an example of why she was supporting the event.

So on that day at Chatsworth House, I hung out with three inspirational Diabetes UK supporters and an Olympian. It was an incredible feeling being amongst so many inspirational and motivational people. If I could be just half as courageous, selfless, motivated and determined I know I’ll go a long way in life.

My heroes – Andy, Pam, Jessica and Lottie

To find out more, or to sign up to one of the events, go to the VitalityMove page on the Diabetes UK website.

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